1. Cian Healy – 7
Solid in the scrum and workmanlike in the loose. Never really reached the level he can, but along with the rest of the tight five, set a platform for a win which never happened.
2. Rory Best – 8
Didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. A try, good scrummaging and dependable as ever in the line-out. Maintains his position as leading candidate for the Lions.
3. Mike Ross – 7
Had Rhys Gill in his pocket in the scrum for long periods, but was far less prevalent in the open.
4. Donnacha O’Callaghan – 6
A slightly controversial selection given the form of Ryan. He did little wrong, but did too little full stop for me. Should be on the bench in Paris next week.
5. Paul O’Connell – 8
His leadership skills are not in doubt, and he stole line-out ball well for an hour or so. He tackled well and generally led from the front.
6. Stephen Ferris – 6
Normally I would take a point off for the late penalty conceded, but I don’t believe it was a penalty. Still, was very quiet and lost his head to head with Ryan Jones convincingly.
7. Sean O’Brien – 6
Another who stuttered, possibly performing better against Warburton than he did when Warburton went off. Not present enough in the loose.
8. Jamie Heaslip – 6
One break aside in the second half, Heaslip looks half the player he was two seasons ago. The dynamism you expect from him just wasn’t there.
9. Conor Murray – 6
Started well, put some good box kicks in, and distributed the ball reasonably well. He was overshadowed by Mike Phillips though and once more looked a little uncertain on the biggest stage.
10. Johnny Sexton – 6
His place-kicking was assured, but there was a lot of aimless kicking from the hand, and a few vital missed touches. Another, along with Murray, who had a chance to concrete a place in this side for a long stint, but failed to take the chance.
11. Andrew Trimble – 6
Seemed uncertain in defence, slightly lost with ball in hand in his own 22, and never really showed as an attacking force.
12. Gordon D’Arcy – 5
One quick pass aside, D’Arcy showed very little. His defence was shown up on several occasions, and he looked lost without the shoulder of O’Driscoll to lean on. Ireland needed a big performance from him to show the inexperienced McFadden the way. He failed to produce.
13. Fergus McFadden – 5
Along with D’Arcy, his defence was shown up too many times. Davies and Roberts ruled the roost in the centre and many of Ireland’s woes came from an inability to either stop those two accumulating the yards, or missing first-up tackles in midfield. Harsh on the young guy maybe, but this was won and lost in the centre.
14. Tommy Bowe – 6
Try aside, a quiet night and at times he looked like an Underwood in the face of Lomu with North running at him. Defensively ill-equipped to deal with a guy of North’s size.
15. Rob Kearney – 8
If there is a better man in World Rugby under a high ball, in defence or attack, then I’d like to see him. Kearney showed most attacking intent of the Irish back 3 too and is back to his best.
Ryan (for O’Callaghan 63) – should get the nod over his clubmate, most involved in the Davies sin-binning, but offers much more than the 1-dimensional O’Callaghan
O’Gara (for Sexton 74) – Involvement limited to kicking off with 40 seconds to go
Reddan (for Murray 77) – no involvement
by Mark Bonsall